Dampness & Building Pathology

Damp cause by render meeting the ground

Traditional buildings which are categorised as those built before 1919 make up about a quarter of the UK building stock. These are vapour permeable in that moisture which ingresses into the building fabric evaporates when the weather or other conditions change. It has become common practice to block the pathways of moisture with vapour barriers which often leads to building deterioration.

At Edwards Hart we follow BS 7913: 2013 and that means focusing on maintaining and sometimes returning a building to its original performance characteristics and that means retaining vapour permeability.

Infrared Thermography

It has become common practice to install chemically injected damp proof courses, apply cement renders and construct concrete floors to deal with dampness, but this is often counterproductive and may only deal with the symptoms and not the cause of dampness;

Our surveying teams are experts in building pathology. We properly analyse buildings and look for the cause of dampness and other problems. This starts with understanding the original construction and its performance. It also means understanding how subsequent inappropriate work and damp proofing has affected that performance and how best to deal with it.

All our surveyors have been trained by Professor John Edwards in the understanding and investigation of damp in buildings and in the design and implementation of remedial works. He has also trained many individuals who work for other organisations through the Construction Study Centre, the CIOB Academy and the Environment Study Centre.

Professor Edwards is responsible for planning all investigations, their management and their quality assurance.

Our analysis relies upon knowledge, expertise and specialist equipment which includes appropriate damp meters, hygrometers and thermal imaging cameras. Our approach often means undertaking less work compared to common damp proofing practices.

Following BS 7913: 2013 means practicing building pathology and a process that combines it with historic significance. This approach is taken towards dealing with all building defect analysis. We analyse dampness and other defects which could be very small or very large.

We have analysed and dealt with dampness problems within small domestic dwelling for home owners and in much larger buildings. Examples include the multi storey Baltic House, the Hall School, Trafalgar Square, Llandarcy Garden Village, Foundry Terrace and Cambrian Place and many of these are Listed Buildings.

If you have a problem with dampness, condensation or other defects please contact us.

We provide independent advice on dampness of all kinds. Our expertise and our specialist equipment will enable proper analysis on the sources of dampness and enable those sources to be eradicated or controlled. We can carry out different levels of surveys which are dependent on the type of problem, the ease or difficulty in determining the source of damp, the type of building and circumstance: 

  • Visual survey
  • Visual survey with data collection
  • Building pathological investigation
  • Building pathological investigation with environmental monitoring


Micro Drilling


Environmental Monitoring

Dampness can come in various different forms and can have varying effects on building fabric, decoration and the health of building occupants:

  • Rising damp
  • Penetrating damp
  • Condensation
  • Construction moisture
  • Pipe leakage
  • Roof and associated areas including abutments
  • Spillage
  • Ground and surface water – including following a flood
  • Contaminating salts in solution
  • Corrosion of metal
  • Rot and insect attack

Dampness can also be caused by energy efficiency retrofit and also retrofitted moisture barriers which can cause thermal bridging, interstitial condensation and the trapping of moisture within building fabric. We are experts in the effects of retrofit and have developed training courses with CITB’s National Construction College in the energy efficiency and retrofit of traditional buildings which are independently accredited by the Scottish Qualification Authority – here we explore the unintended consequences of inappropriate retrofit. We have delivered this course to a wide ranging audience including specific programmes for the Federation of Master Builders and the National Trust. If you have a building that has been retrofitted, you need an expert in retrofit to survey that building.

Contact us if you would like independent advice and assistance from very experienced and well qualified Chartered Building Surveyors and Building Pathologists who are also conservation ‘accredited’ and ‘certified’ experts.

Environmental Monitoring

Environmental monotoring and recording data

In its basic form environmental monitoring will monitor temperature and Relative Humidity over a period of time as opposed to a single point in time that could form part of a building survey or inspection.

Environmental monitoring can highlight certain conditions that occur at particular times. This is useful when relating these conditions to the condition of building fabric. Our expertise in the way buildings react to certain conditions helps us properly understand how defects and other problems occur. By understanding what is creating the environmental conditions in the first place, we can then work out solutions based on more informed use along with work to building fabric. 

Environmental monitoring at Edwards Hart is designed, developed and delivered by our Director John Edwards who began environmental monitoring of buildings in 1981 and his experience ranges from social housing to some of the most complex projects such as the House and Clock Tower at Cardiff Castle.

Environmental monitoring is usually adopted when something has gone wrong, but its proactive use is in determining the best uses for buildings prior to refurbishment, where knowledge of a buildings natural conditions can help inform the use of spaces and negate the need for active building environmental controls in favour of passive ones.

Environmental monitoring is also necessary before buildings receive energy efficiency retrofit in order to assess the suitability of works and measures and help provide a base line from which to evaluate the effects of works and measures.

Contact us if you would like independent advice and assistance from very experienced and well qualified Chartered Building Surveyors and Building Pathologists who are also conservation ‘accredited’ and ‘certified’ experts.


Testing the moisture content of timber

There are many definitions of flooding and we define it has the drenching of buildings from sources which can include water from outside the building due to weather conditions or the breaking of river banks and dams, the effects of putting a fire out with water and the effects of leaking pipes and drains. A building could also become drenched through neglect over a period of time.

The effects of flooding are to make a building wet and thoroughly soaked and dealing with this requires an approach that will safeguard the building in the short, medium and long term. Unless this is dealt with properly at the outset the consequences could be severe for the building itself and the health of the occupants.

Different types of floods will bring about different degrees of risks concerning contaminants, but the main issues for all types of flooding is to ensure that the correct methods are adopted in the drying out of the building. A major factor is the length of time the building was flooded, but following that it is critical to understand:

The design and construction of the building – thickness of building fabric, type of building fabric and its ability to absorb and diffuse moisture and the interface between layers of building fabric. This is particularly important where buildings have been retrofitted with wall insulation. In addition, the finishes to building fabric and structural elements must also be understood and whether they are prone to trapping moisture.

The depth of understanding needs to be sufficient down to knowledge of the pore size and structure of the materials from which a building is constructed so that the rate of moisture diffusion can be estimated and also guide the most appropriate methods of drying.


Insitu U Value Tests

Our expertise in building pathology allows us to properly plan the drying out of flooded buildings. This requires a thorough assessment of the building, tests and analysis along with environmental monitoring to monitor the rate of drying. Dealing with flooded buildings always carries risks, but our experience of buildings where this has not been done properly has highlighted problems such as:

  • Dry rot
  • Shrinkage and warping
  • Mould
  • Structural defects
  • Defective decoration and finishes

We have expertise in many types of buildings and ages including historic buildings – we are Certified as Historic Building Experts by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. We advise property owners as well as architects, engineers and surveyors.

Contact us if you would like independent assistance and advice from a very experienced and well qualified Chartered Building Surveyors and Building Pathologists. We can help you in planning the drying out of a building, monitoring safe drying out or inspecting a building after drying out to determine remedial works.

Timber Rot and Insect Attack

Modern paint trapping moisture causing timber to rot

This all related to levels of damp. Timber is affected by fungi and wood boring insects within bands of dampness levels and properly ascertaining the dampness levels present is critical in the analysis of the cause of the problems and their remediation. We take a green approach and only recommend the use of chemicals where absolutely necessary and seek to control dampness to levels that do not promote fungal decay of timber and infestation by insects. This requires an excellent understanding of building construction, design and building physics and the practice of building pathology.

Our surveys will focus on the cause of problems and we will use our expertise and necessary equipment to determine this and to recommend sustainable solutions. Our analysis will usually be made at a single inspection or can involve a more in-depth investigation that may include environmental monitoring.

We can investigate any type of building from simple small dwellings to the most complex historic building – we are Certified as Historic Building Experts by the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors. We advise property owners as well as architects, engineers and surveyors.

Cavity Wall Inspections and Analysis

Our specialist equipment and expertise enables us to provide expert analysis of cavity walls. This includes working out any source of dampness and whether obstructions exist in cavities. We can also analyse and inspect cavities which have been filled with insulation and provide illustrated reports on the problems and also possible solutions. This service is led by Chartered Building Surveyor John Edwards. John’s experience of analysing problems with cavity walls commenced in 1981 and includes appraising buildings with wall tie corrosion, those with buildings which have had ‘tie-form’ installed, problems with buildings which have partially filled cavities and also timber framed buildings. John has also had experience of developing and managing cavity wall tie replacement projects involving hundreds of buildings.

Contact us if you would like independent assistance and advice from very experienced and well qualified Chartered Building Surveyors and Building Pathologists.


Fee Charges

Our fee charges for inspections and investigations are calculated for each specific project. Our fee charges start at £950 plus VAT.

Contact us and we will provide you with a quotation.